Marlborough forestry company wins environmental award

Friday 12 Apr 2019

Forest management company Merrill and Ring have been acknowledged for going above and beyond to harvest pines at a sensitive Marlborough site at the top of the South Island, New Zealand. For its work around ecologically significant sites at the Branch River pine plantation in the Upper Wairau Valley, the company took out the forestry category at the 2019 Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards.

The biennial awards showcase businesses and community projects that protect and enhance the environment. As the property managers for the Branch River pine plantation property - on behalf of Australian landowners New Forests - Merrill and Ring's Blenheim-based team have worked to ensure pine trees are being felled and extracted more carefully and tōtara seed is being collected from the native forest remnants and grown out to seedlings. These will be planted as a wide buffer zone, protected by QEII covenants.

Merrill and Ring technical forester Siobhan Allen said the tōtara project took in an area of around 25 hectares. The company hoped to complete the project within four years but this would be dictated by how long it took for new tōtara seedlings to germinate.

Similar projects that involved taking land out of production and putting it back into riparian areas were anticipated for the rest of the companies they manage, Allen said. Award judges were impressed by the innovative thinking to protect biodiversity and manage slash and sediment, which are industry-wide issues.

"As a management company overseeing thousands of hectares of plantations in Marlborough, Merrill and Ring has potential to influence the industry," they said. "By aiming for best practice, they're showing other forest owners how to make environmental sustainability a priority, while improving health and safety on the hill."

Managing director Kyle Heagney said the recognition was a good way of showing what the company did from an environmental point of view. "Often people can't see what we do because a lot of the properties we manage are a long way from public roads or out of view."

Merrill and Ring manages approximately 15,000 hectares of forested land in New Zealand and selling around 250,000 tonnes of logs annually.


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